Trashed Portsmouth theatre thanks donors and volunteers who 'saved it from its final bow'

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FOUR weeks ago staff at the Groundlings Theatre were reduced to tears after the site was ransacked by burglars who stole hundreds of pounds and poured bleach into their servers.

Now the Portsea venue’s artistic director, Richard Stride, has hailed the public for an outpouring that has since saved it from its final bow. 

Artistic director Richard Stride at Groundlings Theatre, Kent Road, Portsmouth. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Artistic director Richard Stride at Groundlings Theatre, Kent Road, Portsmouth. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Good Samaritans have painted, administrated, organised and sewed to undo the widespread damage done by the thugs on September 29. 

Mr Stride said: ‘The reaction has been very heartwarming and, I have to say, I didn't think we were loved and cared for that much. 

‘Someone walked in with a donation of £500 after the burglary and on the day it happened we had about 20 volunteers rush in to help us. 

‘The burglary undid about 20 years of hard work so there is much more that needs doing and we are grateful to get volunteers.' 

Thieves were caught ransacking the Groundlings Theatre in Kent Street, Portsea, Portsmouth, on the morning of September 29. This picture shows a cupboard containing the theatre's safe smashed open. Picture: Richard Stride

Thieves were caught ransacking the Groundlings Theatre in Kent Street, Portsea, Portsmouth, on the morning of September 29. This picture shows a cupboard containing the theatre's safe smashed open. Picture: Richard Stride

READ MORE: Police release CCTV of man they want to speak to in connection with Groundlings Theatre burglary

The Kent Street theatre was due to welcome cast members for first rehearsals for its November show Little Women a day after the burglary.

But destroyed computers and lost documents irretrievable through insurance meant Mr Stride did not know who actors were until they arrived. 

When they showed up he learned Lorraine Bream, who was chosen to play the role of Marmee, was the 53-year-old woman who was tragically found dead on a rooftop in Palmerston Road in Southsea on September 16 – two days after cast were told of their roles.

The Groundlings Theatre in Kent Street, Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (021019-7981)

The Groundlings Theatre in Kent Street, Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (021019-7981)

To keep up fundraising up the theatre will hold a sale on tickets for its pantomime and sell 1,500 of its costumes and trinkets on November 2.

Mr Stride said: ‘This is a great opportunity for people to take away a piece of theatre or film memorabilia and at the same time make a valuable contribution towards rebuilding our theatre.’ 

READ MORE: Owner of Portchester Chinese takeaway fined £6,500 for 'filthy' restaurant

Costumes worn on film and TV and in top shows will be up for grabs, alongside a 1920s gramophone and programmes featuring Judy Garland. 

The event will run from 11am to 3.30pm, with Jack and the Beanstalk panto tickets reduced to £10 for the day. 

Selfless staff at the Plough and Barleycorn pub, in Cowplain, will walk to work from the theatre tomorrow in an effort to raise hundreds for it.

For more information, or to volunteer to help at the theatre, call 023 9273 7370 or email info@groundlings.co.uk between 9am and 5pm.